On November 27, 2023, Tasmania made headlines by being the first state in Australia to introduce legalized gambling. However, this has now changed as the government has decided to ban the game of poker everywhere except at its casinos.
The ban seems to stem from what constitutes legal gambling in Tasmania. Despite having operated without issue for years, organizations such as the Tasmanian Poker League and Australian Poker League (APL) are now unwelcome. The government, with the help of the Tasmanian Liquor & Gaming Commission (TLGC), the state’s gaming regulator, decided that the game of poker was illegal in clubs and pubs, but not in casinos.
Craig Abernethy, the founder of the Australian Poker Schedule website, brought the ban to the attention of Casino.org, highlighting how poker clubs set up their tournaments and games. Tasmania does not allow poker games that require a cash buy-in unless a casino is the host. This unique prohibition has led poker clubs and friendly pick-up games at pubs to employ a different solution, such as using merchandise as the buy-in.
However, when the TLGC found out about this method, it decided to put an end to the practice. As a result, the three organized poker clubs operating in Tasmania, and their thousands of players, are now out of luck.
The TLGC has argued that any non-casino poker game that requires an entry fee to participate is prohibited by the state’s gaming regulations. This decision not only impacts club and pub workers and thousands of players but also has financial repercussions for global gaming operator Entain, which purchased the APL earlier this year. It has run poker games for 25,000 customers in pubs and clubs in Tasmania over the past year.
Entain, along with other industry heavyweights like Abernethy, are now trying to get the TLGC to reverse the ban. They are considering different approaches to comply with the regulations and continue to operate poker games legally.